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Pratt Street in Baltimore in spring

Pratt Street in Baltimore. Photo (cc) dionhinchcliffe

The Baltimore Sun: Baltimore’s downtown public spaces get a face-lift

A vision for the “greening” of downtown Baltimore is taking shape after city leaders proposed ambitious steps to keep and attract businesses and residents by making public areas more inviting.

An open-space plan unveiled last February by the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore calls for a network of spaces that link neighborhoods to the downtown by offering “visual cues,” pleasant streetscapes and activities to propel pedestrians from one block to the next. The plan, the first of its kind for the downtown, envisions new or enhanced parks and plazas, as well as livelier streetscapes and public spaces that feature regular activities.

Sounds similar to the CityWALK proposal here in Providence.


Streetsblog: Dear Media Lemmings: Headphones Don’t Kill People, Drivers Do

There’s a University of Maryland study making the rounds today that links pedestrian fatalities with the wearing of headphones – a three-fold increase over the last seven years. Judging from the breathless headlines, the causation is clear. “Study Shows Sharp Rise in Accidents Involving Tuned-Out Pedestrians,” reads the Chicago Tribune. “Fatal Distraction,” says MSNBC. “Music to Die For,” sneers the Post.

With no accounting for driver error, this study isn’t worth the paper its printed on. In taking motor vehicles and their operators out of the equation, you might as well pin pedestrian deaths on Chuck Taylor tennis shoes or Orbit chewing gum.


The Atlantic Cities: An R&D Lab for Transit Tech Tools

Don’t lie: Sometimes you’re afraid of the bus. Bus route information is pretty uniformly awful. You don’t know where the stops are. If you do know where the stops are, you don’t know when the bus will come. Or, if a bus does come and you manage to get on it, you’re not quite sure where it’ll take you. Or – worst of all – you’re standing on the corner where you know the bus is supposed to come, it finally appears on the horizon – at last! – and then, for whatever reason, it rumbles past without you. This corner, on this day of the week, heading in this particular direction, is bypassed during express service.

This is basically why the field of Transportation Demand Management exists. Just because a city has extensive transportation options to move everyone around without a car doesn’t mean people will use them. Any one of those fears is enough to make you think, “it’s easier if I just drive.”


The Atlantic Cities: Do Cities Need Universities to Survive?

The so-called “town and gown” relationship between cities and universities has become increasingly important in recent years. As universities contribute more and more to the local economy through research, reputation and building, they’re seen not only as educational and cultural institutions, but economic development tools. But how much should cities rely on universities?

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